If you’re feeding your baby breastmilk, the odds are that you’re pumping as well. Pumping can suck, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve done my own market research (i,e, I own way too many breast pumps) so you don’t have to.
A few things to consider when purchasing a breast pump is how often you anticipate pumping. Will you be an occasional pumper? a full time pumper? pump only at work? These answers can help you choose the right pump for you.
Most insurances cover a variety of pumps. I see many clients tempted by the Medela Freestyle. It’s portable, comes with a neat little carry bag and looks almost cute. Don’t be fooled. This pump has been reported by many moms as not having strong enough suction. Your better bet for. Medela model pump is the Pump In Style Advanced. While it’s not as easily portable, it does have better suction than the Freestyle. You can get it with a carry bag as well, but it is a bigger pump than the Freestyle.
Another popular brand that is on the rise is the Spectra. I personally have the Spectra 2 and the 9, The Spectra is comparable to the Medela Pump In Style Advanced (which I have as well) but in my opinion is far superior to the Medela. The Spectra 1 is the portable version of the 2 (the main difference is it has a battery and does not need to be plugged into an outlet). The suction strength is great and also has the option to vary suction length so you can customize your pump setting. The downside is that the pump is big and doesn’t fit easily in a bag to be transported. For this reason I got the Spectra 9. This one is Spectra’s version of the portable Medela Freestyle. I’m not a fan. My output is significantly less with the Spectra 9. I have to pump extra minutes to get the same volume I would with the 2. It also does not allow you to vary suction length. If you’re an occasional pumper, you may be fine with this but I’d recommend skipping it.
For an easy to toss in your bag option I love the Medela manual pump. Manual pumps aren’t always the most popular because you have to be hands on (no scrolling social media while you pump!) but you get so much more control. You can control how long and strong the suction is by how long and how fully you press the handle. I get the best output with the manual pump. It’s small and easy to take anywhere. I’ve even pumped in the back of an Uber without the driver even knowing! (Or at least he didn’t seem to notice!).
Wearable pumps are newer on the scene. The Willow is one and another that I’ve been lucky to try is Elvie. Unfortunately I don’t have hands on experience with the Willow. Neither brand is currently covered by insurance and are quite costly (Willow, $479, Elvie &499 but currently waitlisted). I’ve heard mixed reviews from moms who have used the Willow. Some have loved the hands free, cord free, attachment free ease. Others have reported that it’s uncomfortable and the storage bags are not their favorite. I had a tough time getting the Elvie to work for me st first but their customer service was quite helpful. For me, I needed more pressure and found that a non nursing bra worked better. If you follow me on Instagram (@erin_doulight) you’ve seen me singing the praises of this pump. I love it. I love the freedom and the gentle suction. It’s almost silent. While I love it, I do still use my Spectra 2 and wouldn’t give it up entirely for the Elvie. If the price tag isn’t a deal breaker, it’s worth a consideration for the truly hands free mobility.
The Haakaa is an option I wasn’t going to initially include but really loved using it in the early months of breastfeeding. The Haakaa is a different style of breast pump in that it suctions on to the non nursing breast and collects the let down. When you’re pumping or nursing, both breasts will have a let down reflex even if not being stimulated. The Haakaa will collect it, with gentle suction, into a reservoir. I recommend using this with a nursing/ pumping style bra (my favorites are from The Dairy Fairy) to keep little hands and feet from knocking it off and spilling the milk. I was able to collect and stash a pretty good amount before ever breaking out an electric pump.
For exclusive pumpers or those who will be pumping more than nursing may wish to rent a hospital grade pump. These pumps are designed for frequent use and have stronger motors to handle the mileage. Your insurance may cover the rental, and some will even cover your purchase of a hospital grade pump (you may need a prescription from your care provider).
Consider what your anticipated needs are while pregnant. Call your insurance or contact a service like Aeroflow to help you navigate your options. You may also be entitled to additional pumping supplies like valves, tubing and bottles so ask for these too.
I’d love to hear your reviews of pumps you’ve tried, loved/ hated or are curious about! Happy Pumping, mamas!